An upstate New York industrial mechanic convicted of attempting to produce a mobile X-ray device intended to kill Muslims has been sentenced to 30 years behind bars.
Fifty-two-year-old Glendon Scott Crawford, of Galway, was also convicted of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and distributing information about weapons of mass destruction. He was also ordered to go a lifetime of supervised release after the sentence.
Co-defendant Eric Feight, who is in his mid-50s, pleaded guilty to lesser charges of providing material support to terrorists and was sentenced last year to eight years in prison.
Both men worked for General Electric in Schenectady. Prosecutors say the device was intended to be a truck-mounted radiation particle weapon that could be remotely controlled and capable of silently aiming a lethal beam of radioactivity at its human targets. The concept was that victims would eventually die from radiation sickness.
The investigation broke open in April 2012 when Crawford allegedly went into an Albany synagogue and "asked to speak with a person who might be willing to help him with a type of technology that could be used by Israel to defeat its enemies, specifically, by killing Israel's enemies while they slept," the complaint says. He referred to Muslims and enemies of the United States as "medical waste," according to court records.
Later that day, Crawford telephoned a second area synagogue, using his cell phone, and made a similar offer, the complaint states. An FBI agent's affidavit indicates that someone at the unidentified synagogue contacted Albany police, who relayed the information to the FBI. At that point a Joint Terrorism Task Force began an investigation.
The FBI complaint states that on June 5, 2012, Crawford met with a confidential source for the FBI at a Scotia restaurant and allegedly talked about his enemies and of being "tired of getting 'raped,' that there are people out there who have decided that they don't get their fair share in life, and that (Crawford) wanted to stop these people."
During the meeting at the restaurant, Crawford described his plan to purchase or construct a powerful industrial x-ray machine that would be powered by batteries. The plan included an attempt by Crawford to find part-time work in a metal shop where he would have access to x-ray tubes, the complaint states.
"Crawford also told the (source) that the target of his radiation emitting device would be the Muslim community," the complaint states. "Crawford described the device's capabilities as 'Hiroshima on a light switch' and that 'everything with respiration would be dead by the morning.'"
Crawford ended the meeting by stating "how much sweeter could there be than a big stack of smelly bodies?"
The FBI complaint charges Crawford and Feight with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, including use of a weapon of mass destruction.
According to federal authorities, Crawford recruited Feight, who worked for a manufacturer of electronic control devices in Hudson, to assist him with the design and construction of the device. Feight, as an outside contractor, met Crawford last year through their association at General Electric Co., according to the complaint.
FBI agents tracked the two men through cell phone calls, emails and text messages beginning in December 2012. Under the plot described by the FBI, Crawford concentrated on building the radiation device while Feight was building the electronic controls. The two men met May 20, 2013, in Albany and Feight gave a remote-transmission device to Crawford. They had planned a test to take place at an undisclosed hotel in the Albany area.
The suspects had successfully tested the remote triggering system that could work from a little less than a half mile away from the weapon, the complaint states. On June 12, 2013, they planned to have a dinner where Crawford would be provided with the radiation system, which was not finished. When the men were meeting, the FBI was monitoring their activities, including using undercover informants who posed as members of a South Carolina Ku Klux Klan group interested in purchasing the device and financing the project.
The men were arrested by an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.
In a statement, General Electric said: "On Tuesday afternoon the FBI informed GE that Glendon Scott Crawford, a GE manufacturing employee, was arrested for a criminal act. We have no reason to believe the act took place on GE property nor is there any information indicating that our employees' safety was ever compromised. Since this incident, Mr. Crawford has been suspended. We are cooperating fully with the authorities on their investigation."